Keke NAPEPs: A curse or a blessing?

The cause-effect relationship

Recently, a new means of transportation tricycles “Keke” was introduced for poverty eradication which was created to empower the poor, jobless and underemployed Nigerian to a position where he can form a considerable and acceptable worth in the society to earn every day bread and also to make transportation cheaper for inhabitants replacing the commonly used motor bike believed to cause a lot of accidents on major roads. However a lot of youths benefited and are still benefitting from the schemes but for some it was just another channel of embezzlement.

It was without a doubt a blessing. In 2003, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) awarded a N2.4 billion contract for the supply of 5, 000 tricycles and spare parts in 2003 to Chief Executive of Autobahn Techniques Limited (trademark owners of the name KEKE NAPEP) Ofili Okonkwo who convinced former head of state that the KEKE NAPEP project could be a veritable tool for wealth creation and poverty alleviation however he succeeded in commercializing of the project for personal gains with the help Piaggio Italy, the supplier who increased the price per unit of tricycles supplying just 500 units at N375,000 per unit as opposed to the original price of N277,500 per unit.
How on earth are the targeted beneficiaries meant to benefit when assembled tricycles were sold at a higher rate in the open market by the Initiative for Peace Empowerment and Tolerance International (IPET).

In contrast, the society embraced the Keke NAPEP scheme and it soon became the cheapest and easiest means of transportation. For some, it turned out to be a setback causing traffic nightmare for road users particularly in Lagos where Keke operators are seen snaking through every available space amid vehicles violating traffic rules and risking the live of its passengers.

In some places, it turned out to be a life saving means of affordable transportation particularly in the Nation’s capital city “Abuja” where cab takes 300 naira minimum per drop. Not until the recent ban on Keke operation by the Federal Territory Administration (FCTA).

In 2010, a lot of people commended the F.C.T minister Senator Bala Mohammed for resenting the sex workers whom he said were adding no value to the beauty of the city. A very beautiful decision indeed without a fall back plan for them. When decisions like this are being taken, a lot of “what if” has to be taken into consideration. Now the social workers are no longer on the streets of Abuja but they have their offices, complimentary cards with just their names and phone number on it and some of them have moved to places like Karmo to continue their business. For some of these girls, social work is all they have known and if the F.C.T minister had reflected on the ban, he would have known to provide alternative means of livelihood to reduce the effect of such action same is the case of Keke operators.

Crime rate and accident occurrence drastically dropped at the dawning of Keke NAPEPs. Banning them is just going to force them out of jobs causing increase in crime rate and residents losing their affordable means of transportation. Decisions should be made to benefit the masses not some personal gain or interest.

Toyeen Ojo
Finance Estate, Abuja

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